Public health bosses have revealed an outbreak control plan to avoid a local lockdown, like the one in Leicester, coming into force here in Bolton.

The council’s outbreak control plan sets out measures to prevent the spread of the virus, along with steps which will be taken if local outbreaks do occur. It comes as new data reveals the true number of coronavirus cases at a local level for the first time, with Bolton understood to be 21.6 per 100,000 over the last week.

Figures from a leaked Public Health England report suggests Bolton’s infection rate is among the top 10 highest in the country.

But Leicester - where a local lockdown has been enforced - is six times higher than Bolton’s.

Bolton’s director of public health, Dr Helen Lowey, said: “The current situation in Bolton is very different to that in Leicester. The number of cases being confirmed in Bolton has been in decline over the past two weeks.

“We will continue to closely review the data for Bolton and advise any measures that become necessary.

“We urge all our residents to follow the social distancing advice closely, including the two metre distance where possible, and if you cannot keep to the two metre please ensure that you are one metre plus using additional measures, such as face coverings or sitting side by side.”

The new local outbreak plan aims to allow residents to safely live with COVID-19 until a vaccine is found.

It highlights additional measures to reduce the risk of transmission in settings such as schools and care homes, as well as to vulnerable people and groups.

It also sets out how the council will work with national government and other councils in Greater Manchester to further limit the spread of the virus and prevent a “second wave”.

And it explains how the council will manage the effects of the virus on residents, communities and businesses if a local outbreak does occur.

Effective testing and contact tracing is also critical, say Bolton’s public health chiefs, if we are to live safely during the pandemic.

A Greater Manchester COVID-19 management plan has also published to support local authorities, alongside localised data to “empower communities”.

Metro Mayor Andy Burnham described local lockdowns as a “last resort”.

He said: “Everything we’re doing is about avoiding that. For me that’s failure. That’s the end of the line. I still see that being fraught with difficulties.

“It’s my job, alongside the leaders in Greater Manchester to do everything we possibly can to prevent that happening and that is what we’ve agreed today.”

Bolton Council leader David Greenhalgh said: “We’ve come a long way since the start of the lockdown in March and have made real progress in bringing the rate of infection down in Bolton.

“The number of deaths has also fallen but now is not the time for complacency.

“In recent weeks we have seen a gradual easing of lockdown measures, and this weekend a new milestone will be reached as businesses such as pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers reopen.

“This is a cause for celebration but if we want to avoid local lockdowns being imposed we need to remain vigilant.

“Prevention remains key, so we need to continue to practise social distancing and regular handwashing, wear a face covering on public transport and avoid gathering in large groups.”

Executive cabinet member for wellbeing Susan Baines, added: “Since the outbreak started, sadly more than 300 people have died in Bolton from coronavirus. Stopping the virus spreading will help to prevent more lives being lost. And we all have to play our part.

“Testing and contact tracing is critical to this and it’s vital people engage with NHS contact tracers if they test positive or if you get a call because you have been in contact with someone who has the virus.

“Support is there via the council’s response hub if you have to self-isolate as a result and need help to get food or medicines. We know having to self-isolate is not easy, but help is there if you need it.”

People need to be on the lookout for symptoms and get tested if they are worried they have the virus.

Anyone who has symptoms including a new continuous cough, a raised temperature or loss of sense of smell should immediately get tested.

If they test positive, all people they have been in close contact with will also be contacted and asked to self-isolate.